How to Host Your Own Garden Festival/Party - Carolyn Henderson

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British and Irish summertime is here! Get ready for brief moments of sunshine, plenty of sudden showers and a smattering of hailstorms and thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. 

We are used to less than tropical summers with festival season normally marked with rain, mud and more mud. If that doesn’t appeal to you, or if you simply won’t be able to attend the array of festivals held across the country, then why not bring the festival to you?

Garden parties are massively underrated. What better way to get all your family and friends in the one place to enjoy food, music and games by hosting your own mini festival.


1. Party Prep

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Make sure you’ve got everything organized and under control by starting a few days in advance to make sure that your back yard venue is spotless and ready to go.

It goes without saying, but a mown lawn is a must. Make sure that your garden is looking spick and span with a good cut. A little bit of weeding wouldn’t go amiss and make sure you have extra chairs, throw blankets and portable heaters to keep your guests comfy and cosy.


2. Entertainment

Next on the list should be the recruitment of entertainment. Be it a live band (if your garden is big enough to hold such a shindig), an acoustic set or a spotify playlist, music is the heart and soul of any party. Keep the tunes upbeat and fitting for a fun-filled festival party.


3. Decorations

No party is complete without a few well-placed decorations. If you want to keep it classy, choose a colour theme and stick to it. Too many colours and it will start to look like a kids play party. Make sure to also incorporate it in your table decorations including napkins, a table centerpiece, disposable cutlery and plates and perhaps even the drinks. It will look like you’ve put in a lot of effort and will also be instantly instagrammable.

When it comes to décor, it’s the little touches that can make all the difference. White fairy lights are cheap but they can provide a pretty, elegant touch if they’re strung across a garden fence or popped into mason jars. Paper pom poms are a big trend right now and can easily be purchased from Etsy or Ebay.

Electric signs aren’t just exclusive to weddings and formal gatherings. You can get battery operated mini signs, which can easily be propped up on a table for extra lighting at night. To add an element of surprise and delight, you can even spell out a message such as ‘party time’, ‘eclectic fest’ or ‘summer vibes’, if you really want to splash out!


4. To nibble or to BBQ?

There’s no need to bring in the caterers to make an impression. You can put on a great spread by pulling together lots of mini bites and small dishes to keep everyone satisfied throughout the evening.

Cocktail sausages, mini sausage rolls, ham and cheese skewers and neatly cut finger sandwiches are always sure fire winners, but you can branch out and be a little more creative with the kiddie options like homemade lollies and Disney inspired smoothies.

A BBQ will always be a family favourite and will easily keep your guests feeling full for longer. If you want to mix it up, you can add hickory and oak for fish and pork, or cherry and apple wood, which will go well with most meats. The only downside with a BBQ is that one person has to slave away cooking the grub, whilst everyone else gets to dance and party!


5. Make your own beverages

Every good host will have some drinks available, but there’s no need to go for a full bar. A few large bottles of soft drinks will do the job and a pitcher of homemade punch will go down a treat!

Tying in with the colour theme idea, you can make a colourful cocktail that is in sync with your surroundings. Here are some ‘punchy’ recipes to get the party started.


6. Weather contingency plan

It’s one of those certainties in life, the unpredictability of the weatherman. Forecasts can often be wrong, so make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality with tarpaulin covers for food and musical instruments. Waterproof jackets are an essential for any outdoors festival, party or gathering, so make sure that you have them to hand.

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